Courthouse in Wilmington, the backdrop of Andy Griffith 's Matlock television series Due to Wilmington's commercial importance as a major port, it had a critical role in opposition to the British in the years leading up to the Revolution.
The city had outspoken political leaders who influenced and led the resistance movement in North Carolina. The foremost of these was Wilmington resident Cornelius Harnett , who served in the General Assembly at the time, where he rallied opposition to the Sugar Act in When the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act the following year, designed to raise revenue for the Crown with a kind of tax on shipping, Wilmington was the site of an elaborate demonstration against it.
On October 19, , several hundred townspeople gathered in protest of the new law, burned an effigy of one town resident who favored the act, and toasted to "Liberty, Property, and No Stamp Duty. But before the effigy was buried, Liberty was found to have a pulse, and celebration ensued. The Town Bell was rung[,] Drums [were] beating, Colours [were] flying and [a] great concourse of People [were] gathered together. On November 18, , he pleaded his case directly to prominent residents of the area.
They said the law restricted their rights. When the stamps arrived on November 28 on the H. Sloop Diligence, Tryon ordered them to be kept on board. Shipping on the Cape Fear River was stopped, as were the functions of the courts.
This "warm welcome" was spoiled, however, after a dispute arose between Captain Phipps and captains of ships in the harbor regarding the display of their colors. The townspeople became infuriated with Phipps and threats were made against both sides. After Tryon harangued them for their actions, the townspeople gathered around the barrels of punch and ox he had brought as refreshments. The barrels were broken open, letting the punch spill into the streets; they threw the head of the ox into the pillory , and gave its body to the slaves.
Because of the unrest, Tryon moved his seat of government to New Bern instead of Wilmington. Each ship provided signed statements from the collectors at their respective ports of origin that there were no stamps available, but Captain Jacob Lobb of the British cruiser Viper seized the vessels. In response, numerous residents from southern counties met in Wilmington. The group organized as the Sons of Liberty and pledged to block implementation of the Stamp Act.
The following day, as many as a thousand men, including the mayor and aldermen of Wilmington, were led by Cornelius Harnett to Brunswick to confront Tryon.
The governor was unyielding but a mob retrieved the seized ships. They forced royal customs officers and public officials in the region to swear never to issue stamped paper. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in March Post Office in downtown Wilmington In the s, citizens of Wilmington became eager to take advantage of railroad transportation.
Plans were developed to build a railroad line from the capital, Raleigh , to Wilmington. When Raleigh citizens declined to subscribe in sufficient number to stock to raise money for the project, organizers changed the terminus to Weldon. When the railroad line was completed in , it was the longest single line of railroad track in the world.
The railroad also controlled a fleet of steamboats that ran between Wilmington and Charleston ; these were used both for passenger travel and transportation of freight. Regular boat lines served Fayetteville , and packet lines traveled to northern ports. The city was a main stop-over point, contributing greatly to its commerce.
James Episcopal Church and other town cemeteries had become filled with graves. On November 16, , a group of citizens, organized as "The Proprietors of the Wilmington Cemetery," was formed to develop a new cemetery.
Sixty-five acres of land around Burnt Mill Creek was chosen as the site for what would be called Oakdale Cemetery. It was the first rural cemetery in North Carolina. The cemetery's first interment, on February 6, , was six-year-old Annie deRosset.
James churchyard were relocated to the new cemetery. The Wilmington Gas Light Company was established in Soon after, street lights were powered by gas made from lightwood and rosin , replacing the old street oil lamps.
On December 27, , the first cornerstone was laid and construction began on a new City Hall. A grant from the Thalian Association funded the attached opera house, named Thalian Hall.
In the city opened its first public school, named the "Union Free School", on 6th Street between Nun and Church streets, serving white students. For a period up to Nat Turner 's Rebellion, they had been allowed to vote, carry arms and serve in the militia. Fears after the rebellion resulted in the state legislature passing laws to restrict the rights of free blacks. During the Civil War , the port was the major base for Confederate and privately owned blockade runners , which delivered badly needed supplies from England.
The Union mounted a blockade to reduce the goods received by the South. The city was captured by Union forces in the Battle of Wilmington in February , approximately one month after the fall of Fort Fisher had closed the port. As nearly all the military action took place some distance from the city, numerous antebellum houses and other buildings survived the war years. Wilmington Insurrection of [ edit ] Main article: Wilmington Insurrection of Wilmington in During the Reconstruction era, former free blacks and newly emancipated freedmen built a community in the city.
Most blacks voted for the Republican Party, which had gained the freedom of slaves. There was increasing violence around elections in this period, as armed white paramilitary insurgents, known as Red Shirts Southern United States , worked to suppress black and Republican voting.
Conservative white Democrats regained control of the state legislature and sought to impose white supremacy , but some blacks continued to be elected to local offices. The Wilmington Insurrection of formerly called a race riot occurred as a result of the racially charged political conflict that had occurred in the decades after the Civil War and efforts by white Democrats to reestablish white supremacy and overturn black voting. In the s, a coalition of Republicans and Populists had gained state and federal offices.
The Democrats were determined to reassert their control. In , a cadre of white Democrats, professionals and businessmen, planned to overthrow the city government if their candidates were not elected. Two days after the election, in which a white Republican was elected mayor and both white and black aldermen were elected, more than white men attacked and burned the only black newspaper in the state and ran off the new officers.
They overthrew the legitimately elected municipal government. Waddell , an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in , marched to the offices of the Daily Record, as they had been angered by its publisher Alex Manly.
The mob broke out of control, shattering windows and setting fire to the building. Violence later broke out across town in Brooklyn, the black neighborhood, which was attacked by mobs of whites. Waddell and his men forced the elected Republican city officials to resign at gunpoint and replaced them with men selected by leading white Democrats.
Waddell was elected mayor by the newly seated board of aldermen that day. Prominent African Americans and white Republicans were banished from the city in the following days. No whites died in the violence. As a result of the attacks, more than blacks permanently left the city, leaving a hole among its professional and middle class. The demographic change was so large that the city became majority white, rather than the majority black it was before the white Democrats' coup.
Blacks were essentially disfranchised and excluded from the political system until after Congressional passage in the mids of the civil rights acts. The shipyard was created as part of the U. Workers built ships in Wilmington during the five years the company operated. At their peak, the camps held German prisoners.
The first camp was located on the corner of Shipyard Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road; it was moved downtown to Ann Street, between 8th and 10th avenues, when it outgrew the original location.
A smaller contingent of prisoners was assigned to a third site, working in the officers' mess and doing grounds keeping at Bluethenthal Army Air Base, which is now Wilmington International Airport.
This road passes through many major cities and state capitals along the way. According to the United States Census Bureau , the city has a total area of Wrightsville Beach is a popular destination in the Wilmington area. Carolina and Kure beaches also add to the city's beach attractions. Snowfall does not occur in most years, and when it does, is generally light. Spring is reasonably lengthy, beginning in late February and lasting to early May. The presence of abundant dense vegetation in the area causes significant pollen dusting in the springtime that tends to turn rooftops and cars yellow.
Due to the proximity of warm Atlantic Ocean waters and prevailing tropical-system tracks, the Wilmington area is subject to hurricane or tropical storm activity, mostly from August to early October, with an average frequency of once every seven years.
Such tropical systems can bring high winds and very heavy rains, sometimes 4 or more inches in a single tropical system. Precipitation in Wilmington occurs year-round. April is the driest month, with less than 3 inches of rain on average, and July to September are the wettest months, with over 7 inches of rain each, on average. Autumn is also generally humid at the beginning, with the threat from tropical weather systems hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions peaking in September.
Some of the deciduous trees may lose their leaves; however, most trees in the area are evergreens and remain green year-round. Climate data for Wilmington Int'l , North Carolina — normals, extremes —present [a] Month.